Monday, August 6, 2018

Find Us At Our New Address

The Cheapskate Urban Gardener has merged with the Sunday Sauce blog.  Find us at our new address via or

The new name for these two new blogs is The Cheapskate Suburban Dweller.

Thanks for your support.

Darryl and Tim

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Rebooting the Yard and the Blog

It's been a couple of years since our last post. Yes, things in real life just spun out of control and so hectic that I just didn't have time to keep up on all of our Musick Channel blogs. The good news is that I retired in March. The bad news is I'm still very busy but a lot of the stress has been let go and I should be able to start keeping up on our other blogs now.

So, the big news was the 5+ year extreme drought that we had in Southern California. Early in 2017, the drought was declared over...although 2018 is back to light rainfall...and it was time to take stock of the damage. 

The big thing is that our front yard was just scorched beyond repair. I really only had two options...remove all plant life out front or re-landscape.  I chose the second option.

This was not going to be a project I could do alone or cheaply, I'm afraid, so I enlisted the services of my neighbor's gardener.  He's a great guy and gardener but has a phobia of telling you a price. I do trust him, though, so into the breach we went.

I drew up what I had in mind for my new yard...a new lawn with sprinklers that took up a little more than half the room of the old lawn. Next, a strip of wood chips that I could put some drippers and shrubs in, and the last part - next to the driveway  a strip of rocks that could double as part of the driveway, if needed, but would just be part of the landscape for us. This was to alleviate the part of the lawn I'd have to drive over if I had a second car (I got rid of our second car when I retired).

First job, at a couple hundred dollars, was to kill and remove the old lawn. Then, he ground up all the dirt and added a couple of inches of mulch.

Next was installing a sprinkler system. More spendy at $1600 but I got a state-of-the-art automatic system that would evenly water the grass and I wouldn't have to remember to water. Plus, it only waters where needed and doesn't splash all over the street. The last station on the sprinkler system was connected to a spigot. This I used to put a drip line through my rose garden and also the new shrub garden under the bark. It is also on the timer.

Last, another $400, my gardener installed Marathon Sod for the new lawn. We'd talked about St. Augustine but he went with the Marathon. I'm glad he did because it feels much finer on the feet and grows much thicker than St. Augustine, choking out potential weeds very well.

Plus, as a Marathon lawn family member now, the company sends me periodic reminders telling me when to fertilize, overseed, how much I should be watering during current seasons, etc.

The lawn was looked fake. Now the gardener was done, it was my turn to finish.

First, I planted nandina around my roses. This is supposed to repel deer, which have been munching on my roses for a few years now.

Next I planted dwarf nandina going up to regular nandina at the top of the bark strip. I also put in some leptospermum which puts out little, bright red flowers. Around the mailbox by the curb, I planted tancetum...which is a gray-leaved yellow daisy like flower...and at the top of the strip by the house, I planted a dwarf nectarine tree.

I went to a local quarry and ordered enough pea gravel to fill in the last strip.  A large truck was dispatched, and the driver got this special fork lift and dumped the gravel in the spot.

It was up to me to spread that out. Lastly, I went back to the quarry and bought some of the biggest rocks I could carry myself (at 9 cents a pound...about $19 all together) and placed them in the gravel.

There, I'm finished.

Six months later, everything still looks great. I had to have the gardener add another zone to the sprinkler system because of low water pressure, that's why you seen the brown, damaged lawn at the top, but everything's worked out great. The sprinklers being timed and soaking better than I could save me about 30% on my water bill and my lawn is still the greenest on the block.

It was more than I like to spend on my garden but well worth it in the end.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2018 - All Rights Reserved

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Where We Been...

Yes, blogging has been light and I apologize. In the real world, I'm a IT Specialist for a very large legal organization and we are in the midst of replacing all of the computers, laptops, servers, switches, etc. for our attorney's and their support staff (over 600 positions) so blogging will be light until it is over.

In the meantime, I've still be gardening but we've also been working that around different projects like this one.

We had the drywall replaced in our laundry room.  My brother-in-law did it while we were away on a trip (soon to be on The World on Wheels) where, due to an unfortunate misunderstanding, he was almost arrested when neighbors mistook him for a robber. The Sheriff's response included three patrol cars and a helicopter!

Well, it's done, now I just have to clean up the mess.

Some of that scrap wood will be burned off in our outdoor fireplace when it gets cooler.

For now, I'll just keep gardening on and enjoying our little slice of paradise.

Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Casualties of War

Just when I thought my garden was going good...

Among the crops I planted for this year's vegetable garden were three varieties of corn.  Corn has always at least done a bit well for me and this year's crop was looking very good.

Then, on trash day when I brought the cans back in, I saw this...

Something, I guessing a local raccoon, decided to eat the whole lot. All of it. Every bit.

I guess it's just supermarket corn for us this year.

The horror...the horror...

Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Cooling the Chiles Amid the Wind Damage

We had some high winds last week. Some people lost power and a few trees were knocked down.  Our damage was limited to a couple of broken ribs in this old patio umbrella.

Our top producing plant in the garden, the hot chile plant, gets a little rangy this time of year.

Time to cut it back...I cut the plant to half its height.

Then, I tie up up to a stake to keep it upright.

After that, I notice a couple of good chiles on the Anaheim chile plant. Those will be helpful in this week's cooking.

That, some deadheading, mowing, and other trimming fill our compost can over the brim.

The yard looks better when done, could probably stand to use a sweeping but there's no more room in the can.

Maybe next week.

Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Spring Update

At the end of last summer, my lawn was a brown patch of drought parched straw.

Carefully watching the weather to maximize free water, overseeding with drought tolerant and heat tolerant grass, and adjusting the limited amount of water we're legally allowed to put on it...the lawn is making a bit of a comeback here in the middle of April.

The dandelion patrol has done some great things to limit those weeds but there's still quite a few mixed in with the grass but the war continues on that front.

I would be nice if my neighbors would take care of their weeds, too, since that's where the majority of the seeds come from.

I had my first session of deadheading the roses this weekend.

After, the front yard bushes look much cleaner.

Our first vegetable harvest were these onions with came from a recycled piece of an onion in the fridge (more on that later in the season).

I used them to make this delicious penne dish...

and this asparagus ham soup. You can find those recipes on our sister blog, Sunday Sauce.

Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Monday, April 4, 2016

New Transplants to the Neighborhood

Picture by Letty Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

Our seedlings have been living the plush, comfortable life in a tray in our family room window.  Sorry kids, out you go...

It's time to show these youngsters the way outside where they will now have to sink or swim in the cold, cruel world.

Actually, it's pretty warm now that spring is here and we've made a nice, comfortable, and nutritional bed for them with our tilling.

The little peat pockets I've started them in snap right off of the tray.

Next, a small hole is just right for that little peat pot.  The plant stays in it as the whole thing is put in the ground so no transplant shock and the peat serves as food for the plant.

Time to water in.

Some plants, like the tomatoes and this canteloupe, need some protection from predators so I put this wire basket around them to keep the bad guys at bay.

Now, they're all part of the garden. Let's get ready for the harvest later.

Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved